Terra Incognita – Review
Follow Genre: Hack 'n Slash
Developer: Christophe Vanhille
Publisher: Christophe Vanhille
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

Terra Incognita – Review

Site Score
1.3
Good: Textures looked nice from up close. Concept could be nice.
Bad: There is no gameplay goal, no storytelling, no rewards for killing enemies, and no possibility to heal your character.
User Score
1.0
(3 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 1.0/10 (3 votes cast)

Terra Incognita is a mystery. This store page features fancy-looking screenshots, but no real description of the gameplay. It does feature an interesting background story on its Steam page, but that’s all we know about the game before we start playing. This game has been developed and published by Christophe Vanhille. We dived down this rabbit hole, only to find mud and dirt.

Story

This game features basically no story. Only in the Inca world, you’ll get a screen-filling pop-up with a pixelated text in French, saying something about an Inca legend and lizard-men. However, you’ll be attacked when trying to read this message, but upon moving your character forward the pop-up will be removed. Walking back will trigger the pop-up again, however.

For the other worlds featured in this game, there is no story at all. You’ll either follow a path or sweep through the battle-arena and slay whatever creature you encounter, and try to reach the end. Whether you actually kill the monsters before leaving the game, is entirely optional.

Graphics

The textures of the models are quite nice, but most worlds seemed to be designed as a battle arena with randomly scattered enemies, instead of an aesthetically pleasing area. The worlds are loosely based on the regions after which they are named, although except for some rather cliché elements, it’s not always obvious. The animations are very stiff and boring as there’s only a basic attack animation for each creature, and that’s it. Creatures can jump, but jumps are not animated; the model will just ‘bump up’ into the air.

The UI is very minimal; you’ll see your health, the number of lives you have left, the weapon and if applicable, the amount of ammo you have. Besides that, you’ll have nothing on screen and no other options as there’s no other equipment to pick up, and no inventory. The only thing you’ll be able to do is go back into the menu to save your game, load, or quit. When losing health, this will be indicated by the screen turning red, next to your HP decreasing. The more health you lose, the redder the screen will become, and the game gets a bit of an over-exposed look. The only way to let your game look normal again, is by dying and respawning.

The title screen and menus are in a completely different style than you’d expect from a fantasy-style game like this. They seem to be very default, but with a theme that would fit a dark futuristic game better than a game like this. There’s also no logo inserted in the first screen, instead, it features a ‘put your logo here’ image.

Sound

Most of the themed levels have a simple generic repeating background tune which is loosely inspired by the aforementioned theme of the world. However, this music won’t always return after your first death. Attacking sounds are very bland, and there’s no variety. The sounds also often don’t seem to fit the creature they belong to. Your character will grunt when he’s being hit, which is also a very generic sound, without variety. As you get hurt, you’ll hear the sound of a beating heart, very loudly. This sound will not go away as long as you are hurt, and since there doesn’t seem to be a way to heal, you’ll hear it until you respawn. Just like the title screen and menu screen graphics, the title music also seems more fitting for a dark futuristic game, than to a fantasy game like this.

Gameplay

Terra Incognita is basically a hack ‘n slash game. If features five different fantasy worlds with different themes: Incas, Asia, Australia, Egypt and Europe. Each world consists of one level; a landscape or city you’ll walk through, killing the creatures you encounter. There’s an entrance point at one side of the map, an exit on the other, and many hostile creatures in between. You’ll get only three lives, so surviving long enough to kill all creatures can prove to be quite a challenge, especially in the larger worlds.

Before entering the game, a pop-up will show up, but only if you launch the game via steam. This pop-up will allow you to enter one of the five different worlds. If you start the game using a shortcut on your desktop, only the first world will start, which is the Inca world. The last option, ‘Utopia’, will load a cyberpunk-style JRPG instead of the first-person hack ‘n slash game that we experienced in the other five worlds. This is a bonus game, as mentioned on the Steam page.

Each of the worlds features different weapons, which you’ll quickly find when walking around. Not all weapons are as effective or useful as you would hope. The bow you can find in the Egyptian world needs arrows, but you don’t get many. If you run out of arrows, you won’t be able to fight enemies anymore, because the other weapon you can pick up in this world, a knife, disappears once you pick up the bow, and there doesn’t seem to be a way to switch back to the knife. The Australian world also has a bow, but the level is so small, that’s it’s quite easy just to dodge enemies and run towards the ending.

The European world features a sword, but is quite difficult to survive, because you’ll immediately get swarmed by many enemies as soon as you enter the game. But as soon as you’ll get running, you’ll be able to dodge the enemies and explore the map until you’ll find the end. Fighting enemies will work when done one by one, but encountering too many at the same time, will mean certain death. The Asian map is set up like a winding path leading over several small islands. It’s hard to avoid enemies on this path, but it’s much easier to encounter them one by one. You’ll also fight with a sword in this world. The Incan world features a magic staff, shooting fireballs. This is the most effective weapon, and since this world is rather small, it’s quite easy to kill all enemies on the map within a short time.

The beginning and the end of each level are indicated by green floating sparkles, indicating portals. If you reach the ending portal, the game will end. There’s no score or reward for completing a level, the only option is to start over. It’s not necessary to kill each or any enemy in the level; once you reach the sparkles, your game will end. There’s no reward for slaying monsters, you won’t even get gameplay statistics like the amount of enemies you’ve killed, after ending the game.

The Asian, Egyptian, and European worlds are rather large maps, where you’ll need to run around for quite some time before finding the ending, encountering many enemies on your path, and getting quite some damage. You can also get falling damage. However, there doesn’t seem to be a way to heal your character. You do encounter glowing crystals on your playthrough and the Egyptian world featured a red bottle, but there doesn’t seem to be way to interact with these items. Contrary to the dialogue when picking up a weapon or arrows, the dialogue you’ll get when encountering a crystal is in French instead of English. The bottle didn’t show any dialogue text at all.

Your character is able to run, next to walking slowly. Running is quite an effective way of exploring a level while keeping out of range of enemies, because enemies can’t move as fast as you can. If you keep running, it’s easy to dodge or circumvent enemies, while trying to look for weapons, ammo, or simply the ending of the level. Many hostile creatures will follow you as you run around, but if you fight them one by one you will most likely survive. Fighting in narrow spaces while walking backwards seemed to be working well, or standing on stairs the enemies couldn’t climb.

Conclusion

This game feels more like a proof-of-concept of an early gameplay try-out than like an actual game. It seems really unfinished and unpolished. The textures of the models look very nice from up close, but most of the worlds are of a really uninspired design. Music, sounds and animations also seem very generic and extremely bland. It’s rather annoying that there’s no way to heal your character, while there are very intrusive sound and graphical effects indicating your character is hurt. Seeing that there’s no reward for slaying enemies and you can just exit the level without killing anything, there’s no reward for playing this game at all.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 1.0/10 (3 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Terra Incognita - Review, 1.0 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
Anmaja


I'm a LARP writer, freelance teacher and everlasting PhD student, and an avid gamer. Nowadays I game mostly on PC, but I love my retro playstation 1 & 2 as well :) I like watching anime, movies and series, and read books & comics whenever I have time!

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